Podcast: Conversational Intelligence

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When delegating or receiving an update on a project, most leaders feel tempted to skip the pleasantries and move straight to the task at hand. But if you do, you are breaking the rules of effective communication. Or, as today’s guest says, you are playing Russian roulette with the relationship.

My guest on this episode is Bob Pointer. After his retirement as a detective at the City of London Police, Bob specialized in helping professionals increase their conversational intelligence and transform their relationships using science-based techniques.

Bob and I first met a few years ago in a LinkedIn group for interrogation specialists, where he stood out as he talked passionately about empathy and kindness - topics that I wouldn’t necessarily associate with police interviews.

On this episode, Bob breaks down the rules of effective communication and explains how leaders and other professionals can apply them in their everyday conversations. We also talk about the role of power in creating a productive conversational climate, how human relationships are built and why trust is the center of everything.

“TRUST is about building a conversational climate, which empowers everyone involved and allows true feelings, emotion and opinions to come out.”

Show Notes:

2:03 – The difference between interrogation and interviewing

3:07 – The art of not asking questions

7:02 – Creating a positive conversational climate

9:30 – The seesaw and how to reduce power dynamics

11:40 – The 3 Ps of purposeful conversations

13:06 – Asking TED questions

14:27 – Why you should handover power to keep the flow goingin interviews

16:45 – Using the onion theory to explain how relationships are built

18:34 – Unpeeling the communication onion

20:22 – I, Us and We conversations

24:05 – Five channels to tune into when reading people

26:55 – Why leaders should know their staff

29:33 – “You cannot not communicate”

30:58 – Why sales people should stop selling

32:11 – “Having the respect of your staff, is probably the most important thing in business”

33:12 – Connected Talking

35:40 – How relationships can change from day to day

39:02 – Communicating in crisis situations

39:53 – Winston Churchill and the contextuality of productive power

41:33 – The role of intuition in Bob’s science-driven work

44:04 – The pseudo-science of body language experts on the internet

45:42 – Looking for clusters of behavior to spot false positives

47:39 – Why Bob’s new accountant is wary about his expenses

48:10 – What to look for when studying human behavior in coffee shops

53:24 – Why leaders have to be more mindful about their conversations

54:32 – An introduction into the TRUST program Bob developed to help leaders transform their relationships utilizing science-based techniques  

56:23 – Bob reflecting on his years as a cop and how he approached cases


Links to people, books and resources mentioned in this episode:

- Bob’s profile on LinkedIn and the website of his company CFIL – Global, a provider of educational programs in the area of human behavior, relationship building, influence and conversational agility.

Update July 2020: Bob’s newest venture is called Trust2Learn, which provides e-learning tools to help people understand all aspects of human behavior and how it affects our relationships at work and at home.

- The website of Paradigm Human Performance, where Bob works as a senior consultant ‘Security and communications’

- My post on Connected Talking, which cites the work of couples therapist Traci Ruble


If you enjoyed this episode of the Meeting Strategist podcast, you might also like these:

- Ep. 09 - Creating a Safe Space for Young Professionals to Thrive, with Julia Hart

- Ep. 06 - The Preparation Paradox: High-Stakes Meetings with David Rudolf from ‘The Staircase’

- Ep. 05 - The Power to Walk Away: Influence in Sales Meetings with Will Marshall


To relive the episode, here are a few key quotes from Bob Pointer:

“The brain is a very lazy thing. And we’d love to just let it guide us through the day without too much effort.”

“It’s like a seesaw, isn’t it? In our conversations, we all want to be the powerful person and we fear not being able to do that. They are the two extremes. But what we settle for is comfortable. And that’s what you should try to make people feel, comfortable.”

“Managers and leaders should know their staff. The key to having an effective conversational climate is for the manager to be in a position where he can ask a meaningful question to start it off with.”

“Whenever you are doing a purposeful conversation with someone, the first thing you should do is create a climate where they feel comfortable. Because if they feel comfortable, their natural resistance and fear will be reduced.”

“Having the respect of your staff, is probably the most important thing in business.”